United Airlines pilots are holding “informational picketing” at 10 airports across the nation today (Friday), ahead of the busy summer travel season. They join pilots at Southwest and American Airlines in demanding better pay and working conditions.
The union said it expects at least 2,000 of its 14,000 pilots to picket at major airports, including Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Newark.
Southwest and American pilots already have authorized strikes, while the United pilots say they have not had a salary increase in more than four years.
Delta Air Lines, alone among the major carriers, settled its issues with its pilots earlier this year, raising pay by 34% over the next four years. United offered a similar deal to its pilots, but the union has not accepted it.
“We expect our contract to raise the bar from Delta’s contract,” union chief Garth Thompson told Reuters. “We’re not just looking for more money; we’re looking for several areas of improvement that we’ve been waiting a long time to achieve.”
But the airlines are not likely to actually strike, as US law forbids them to take such action until federal mediators have determined that further negotiations are not likely to have a positive result. But they could disrupt travel in other ways, like refusing to work overtime or holding sick-outs.